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AUGUST, 1971

Diagon Alley

A boy stands in the window of Flourish and Blotts, a book open in hand while three others are tucked in the crook of his elbow, greedy little eyes scanning the page at a pace that is far past age-appropriate. There is a woman with him: thin and sallow and unattractive, her black hair tied at the nape of her neck. His mother, presumably, the resemblance uncanny aside from the boy’s unfortunate nose.

Lucius stands across the cobblestoned road, his father’s conversation with Mr. Mallaway a muted backdrop as he watches the boy, intrigued as he flips page after page, pink tongue peeking between his teeth as he concentrates: singularly focused.

His father’s voice interrupts the haze, a heavy hand settling on his shoulder. “Severus Snape,” says Abraxas, a note of wonder in his tone as he follows Lucius’ line of sight. “He’s a Prince.”

“What?”

It’s said too quick to stop. Lucius opens his mouth to apologise – Abraxas’ recent lessons on manners still far too clear in his mind – but his father waves it away.

“The Princes – they’re an old pure-blood family,” he explains. “Recluse, now, but...” Abraxas trails off, gaze leaving the boy to settle on his mother, instead. Lucius looks between them, more than a little confused.

“He couldn’t possibly be pure-blood.”

It’s obvious just from the sight of him: small and skinny and dressed in ill fitted clothes, the ragged state enough to make a Weasley look wealthy. There’s no way.

“No,” agrees his father. “He’s not.”

Lucius spares a glance and finds his father still staring at the woman, an odd look in his eye. There is a question, there. One that he files away for later. Behind the glass, the boy has discarded one book in favour of another, the tome almost thicker than he is. Lucius watches the way he hugs it close, fingers clutching the hardback as his mother draws near, a pale hand brushing his shoulder to draw attention. He catches the double take she does: eyes skipping past the window’s view before returning, alert this time, her gaze looking right past Lucius to where Abraxas stands tall. There is a split second where no one moves, the boy following his mother’s step and catching sight of them, too: gaze clear and calculating, almost eerily so. The woman’s hand tightens in the next second, circling her son’s shoulder and pulling him away, the two of them disappearing into the swirl of the crowd. 

Beside him, his father sighs.

“He’ll be arriving at Hogwarts this year,” Abraxas says, turning to continue down the Alley. Lucius hurries to follow, summer robe trailing behind him as he does, the heel of his boot catching against the cobblestone. “Keep an eye on him.”

It’s an order, not an invitation.

Lucius knows better than to ask.

 

 

 

 

JUNE, 1979

Malfoy Manor – North Wing

The owl arrives mid-Sunday morning, swooping in through the open window and dropping an all-white parcel straight into Narcissa’s hands. She catches it, inspecting the circular package carefully before untying the ribbon that holds it together. A scroll unravels with a soft, silver spark, her thumbs smoothing out the parchment as Lucius comes up behind her, his chin propped on her shoulder as he reads the invitation.

 

PRESTON PARKINSON III & PHAEDRA AVERY

REQUEST YOUR PRESENCE AS THEY

JOIN IN MARRIAGE.

NEW PARKINSON ESTATE

AUGUST 3, 1979

13:00

 

“Old Perseus finally pulled rank, hm?” comes her husband’s voice: a low, amused rumble where it sounds beside Narcissa’s ear. She hums, tilting her head to allow the kiss Lucius presses to her cheek.

“I suspect the pregnancy was the last straw,” she says, placing the invitation back into its packaging.

She spins in Lucius’ arms, hand trailing across his chest as she steps past him and moves toward the settee, a tray of tea waiting for them. The invitation is discarded on the edge of the old oak table, her husband’s brow arched as he turns to follow.

“Pregnancy?”

“Allegedly,” Narcissa says, distant as she focuses on stirring sugar into her tea. “No one’s supposed to know, yet.”

The lounge dips as he settles beside her, his mouth curved at the side and his eyes sparkling with a familiar glint. “And yet, you do,” he says, somewhere between proud and accusatory.

Narcissa gives him a look over her teacup. “Of course.”

“Of course,” Lucius parrots. His smile brightens: slow and wide. It makes her insides glow warm. “My au courant wife.”

She smiles her own smile, now, small and secretive as she leans toward her husband. “You’d do well not to forget it,” she reminds him, breath hot against his skin as her lips graze the corner of his mouth

The cup is set in its saucer, left to hover mid-air as Narcissa sits back against the settee. She leans against her husband’s side, his arm thrown across the chair’s back, warm against her shoulders, the slow drag of his thumb welcome where it draws gentle circles into her skin. She feels rather than sees Lucius summon the Prophet to him, its front page filled with headline after headline on the latest attack orchestrated by He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named; the death toll rising every day. She ignores it in favour of glancing back at the invitation.

It will, no doubt, be a lovely wedding, albeit one that is slightly forced. Phaedra was rather well known for her galas, and the Parkinsons were known for their ability to afford them. She can picture it already: the early afternoon sun and fresh summer air, New Parkinson Estate decorated in white and gold and blissfully free of the war brewing outside it. Yes, Narcissa thinks. It will be lovely. Only...

“We should bring Severus.”

Her voice is soft, words murmured. She’s mostly thinking out loud, mind already fitting the date into their schedule, making lists of what will need to be done. They’ll arrive together, of course – no need for plus ones when you’re already married – but, well. Weddings are a place for love. Or at least something like it.

“Hm?”

“Severus,” she clarifies, voice clear as she twists to look at Lucius. “We should bring him to the wedding.”

Lucius lifts his shoulder in a half-shrug, barely looking up from the paper. “Preston would have sent him his own invitation.”

Narcissa rolls her eyes. “No,” she says, digging her elbow in just so. Lucius winches, finally meeting her eye, a question etched in the lines of his face. “We should bring Severus,” she repeats again, a pointed look sent her husband’s way.

Lucius blinks. “Oh.”

“Yes.”

“I suppose,” he says, turning back to the paper.

Narcissa stares. “You suppose?

Lucius meets her gaze again, the brief look enough to make him swallow. Fold the paper twice over and discard it on settee’s edge. “I’m not entirely sure he’ll agree,” he starts, waving a hand and adding, “Short notice,” as if it explains everything.

Narcissa snorts. “Yes,” she says, voice thick with sarcasm. “You’ve only been flirting with him since he was old enough for it to avoid cries of perversion.”

Lucius’ face hardens at that, but there’s a fleeting twitch of his mouth, Narcissa versed well enough in his body language to recognise the amusement there. She stifles her own smile.

“We’ve been thinking about it long enough,” she starts, hand settling on Lucius’ wrist, her fingers slipping beneath the sleeve and stroking warm skin. “Circe knows he won’t bring anyone else.”

There’s an exhale, Lucius’ face softening at her touch. “If you’re certain,” he says, a warning to it, but Narcissa is already smiling.

Of course she’s certain. They’ve a little over a month; it should be plenty of time.

 

 

 

 

SEPTEMBER, 1971

Hogwarts – Slytherin Common Room

“Why do we care about Snape?”

It’s blunt, casual. Thrown out as Narcissa takes a seat beside Lucius in the Common Room, a box of squeaking sugar mice held in hand. She picks up one of the little sweets and puts it on her tongue, listening to its quiet cries for a moment before placing it between her teeth and biting down with a harsh crunch.

“That’s disturbing,” Lucius deadpans, looking up from his book. He lets it fall shut in his lap as he turns toward her. “And it’s something Father said.”

He holds out a hand, expectant. Smiles when Narcissa sighs but still puts two of the sweets in his open palm.

“What’d he say?”

“To keep an eye on him,” Lucius replies, chewing one of the little mice while the second still squeaks in his hand. “And, well. I found a photo in the Manor’s library – Father with Snape’s mother. It looks like they were friends.”

Narcissa raises her eyebrows. “And that makes him important?”

“No. I don’t know.” Lucius reaches across her and into the box, stealing another sweet. “He’s interesting, anyway,” he says. “Tied Rabastan’s tongue into a knot his first night here. I’d like to see what else he can do.”

Narcissa hums, not entirely convinced. “Good luck with that,” she says, plucking the book from his lap and inspecting the cover. The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 6 glitters across the front. “He hates you.”

Lucius waves it away. “He does not.”

She sends him a look over the top of the page, blue eyes glittering with amusement. “No,” she drawls, extending the o: sarcastic. “Posh prick is a term of endearment, then?”

Lucius doesn’t dignify it with a response.

 

 

 

 

JUNE, 1979

Severus’ Potions Lab

Lucius is right about Preston – there is an invitation in Severus’ lab the next time he visits, the scroll discarded to the side and squished beneath the hard back of a potions journal, Severus’ distinct scrawl covering every spare spot on the page.

“Poor book,” Lucius murmurs, picking it up from the counter to inspect. He flips to the title page and hums; Delirium, Confusion, and Confabulation: Ways to Induce.

“Stop touching things,” is Severus’ answer. He doesn’t even bother to look up. “You know what happened the last time.”

Lucius hums. “That explosion was hardly my fault—”

“It was entirely your fault.”

“—and you still owe me for the robe.”

Severus meets his gaze over the cauldron, a soft, pink smoke wafting up around him and framing his face. “You mean you were going to wear it a fourth time?” he asks, the hand that isn’t curled around a ladle resting on his chest in an act of fake outrage before it falls away again. “What would the Society Page say?”

Lucius snorts softly, returning the book to its place and taking hold of the invitation instead. “Will you be attending?” he asks, making a point to keep his tone casual, Narcissa’s strict order that he gauge Severus’ interest without giving anything away still clear in his mind.

Severus looks back to his potion. “A pretentious, prolonged dinner to celebrate the fact that two people who barely tolerate each other will now do so in the name of law?” he asks, tone a clear indicator of what he thinks. “No, I don’t think I will be.”

There is a soft sizzling sound as sliced borage is added to the cauldron, pink smoke gradually fading until the air clears again, contents bubbling lightly when Lucius spares a glance. Potion no. 284, he speculates, going off the colour and ingredients. A nifty concoction for silencing those who know too much, no doubt commissioned by the Dark Lord. He wonders who it’s intended for.

“You enjoyed my wedding,” he says as a counterpoint, fingers reaching for the small vial of glittering pixie dust. Severus’ hand closes on his own before he’s even able to lift it.

“You threatened to have my limbs removed if I refused to show,” the other man says. “Or rather, Narcissa did.”

Lucius’ lips curl, tone warm with affection as he meets Severus’ eye. “Mm,” he agrees. “She’s rather striking when she’s threatening bodily harm, isn’t she?” 

The response is a sigh, but Lucius still catches the way Severus’ cheeks flush: pale skin coloured by the faintest hint of pink.

He files it away for later.

 

 

 

 

OCTOBER, 1971

Hogwarts’ Dungeons

Narcissa recognises her cousin’s voice even before she turns the corner, a sigh pressing at her teeth when Sirius and his little ragtag team of Gryffindors come into view. She’s not surprised to see them circling another student, though she is a bit surprised to see that the other student is Lucius’ pet project: Snape’s face twisted to a look of hatred as he attempts to get his bag back.

They can’t hear her over their own voices, so Narcissa walks toward them at a leisurely pace, coming to a stop a few meters away. A pudgy blond boy catches sight of her, the fear that flashes across his features a compliment.

“Sirius,” she tuts, drawing the group’s attention. She puts on a sickly-sweet voice, faux sympathetic as she looks to her cousin. “I thought you told Aunt Walburga you were going to behave,” she says, stifling the amusement as the grin fades from his face, expression morphing to one of horror. “You wouldn’t want her to find out you lied, now, would you?”

It’s met with silence, Sirius’ throat moving with a nervous swallow beneath his collar. Narcissa knows he’s never been one to take Walburga’s warnings too seriously, but she’d also been one of the students who witnessed the Howler her aunt had sent, voice loud and shrill and threatening as it berated both Sirius and his sorting. She knows he’s going to want to avoid more trouble where he can.

“Give it back,” she prompts, nodding to the bag in the Potter boy’s hands. There’s a moment where she knows Sirius wants to argue, can only imagine the things he’s calling her inside his head, but then he steps forward, stiff and stilted, hands pulling the bag from his friend and shoving it back in Snape’s direction. Narcissa smiles. “That wasn’t so hard, was it?” she calls as he turns to leave, a soft laugh bubbling in her chest as more than one rude whisper answers back.

She turns to Snape once they’re out of sight.

“Are you alright?”

He’s righting himself: bending to retrieve his wand, pale hands shifting robes back into place and straightening the strap of his satchel, the leather cracked and faded but good enough quality to hold. Second hand, Narcissa’s mind supplies. But once expensive. His mother’s, no doubt.

Snape looks to her, expression still twisted in a glare. “You’re related to him?” he spits, accusatory. Narcissa waves it away.

“Cousins,” she explains. Smiling at the look he gives her. “Don’t worry. I don’t like him, either.”

It’s not exactly the truth, but nor is it a lie. These days, Narcissa is indifferent to most of her family; the years of her sisters’ camaraderie long-since past – her age placement amongst the Black children an awkward position. Never mind that Andromeda had gone and left

She blinks away the memory of her sister and focuses back on the boy. “Are you alright?” she asks again, hand reaching to brush Snape’s shoulder. He shrugs it off before she’s even really touched him.

“Fine,” he snaps, like he’s angry at her. Narcissa tries not to roll her eyes.

Snape starts back down the corridor, Narcissa watching for a moment before she follows. He’s an odd-looking boy, she thinks, not for the first time. Small and skittish, poorly cared for. Obviously not taught anything about decorum. She still isn’t entirely sure where Lucius’ fascination comes from.

Still.

“You could at least say thank you,” she calls, though she doesn’t really care. She starts walking again, catching up and matching Snape’s pace.

He spares her a glance and sighs. “If Malfoy sent you—”

“He didn’t send me.”

Snape snorts, and Narcissa bristles just a bit. “Of course he did,” he says. “You’re his girlfriend, aren’t you?”

“No!” It’s a knee-jerk reaction: too loud and pathetically telling. Narcissa feels her face flush, pale skin turned a soft pink. She clears her throat and ignores the look Snape gives her. “No,” she says again, composed this time. “We’re just friends.”

Just friends, although Lucius had danced with her at Bellatrix’s wedding, and there had been a moment, after, as they’d walked together in the gardens, the sun setting above them, where he’d held her hand in his and looked at her, and she’d thought, maybe, that he was going to—

But no. No.

She looks at Snape’s amused face and glares.

“And I can make my own decisions,” she snaps, polite façade dropping. “Honestly! I don’t even know what he wants with you. All you’ve been so far is rude.”

The boy smiles at that, small and twisted, his top lip curling to show a glimpse of yellow teeth. “I like you better when you’re honest,” he tells her, black eyes glittering.

He turns away, after, continuing down toward the Commons. Narcissa can do little but follow beside him, forehead furrowed as she tries to make sense of what he’d said.

They’re almost at the door when she speaks again: voice soft, almost reluctant; something like a peace offering.

“I have another book on plant based poisons,” she says, hand lifting just a bit to point at the book in Snape’s arms. “You can borrow it, if you want. That one’s rubbish.”

Snape stops, suspicion painting his features as he looks at her, dark eyes staring as if they can see directly into her soul. It fades slowly, the boy eventually answering with a quick, jerky nod, lips twitching despite his obvious attempt to stop the smile pulling at his mouth.

Narcissa offers her own smile in response, strangely reminded of three summers ago, when she’d managed to gain the favour of the feral cat that’d loitered around Grimmauld Place, her quiet affection saving the poor thing from Sirius’ curious inspections.

“Come on,” she says, turning to the wall and giving the latest password.

Severus follows close behind.

 

 

 

 

DECEMBER, 1976

Malfoy Manor – Drawing Room

Severus is standing in Malfoy Manor’s drawing room, back straight and stiff as he keeps it to the wall, his fingers fiddling with the sleeve of his robe, the fabric just a little too loose around his wrist. It’s Lucius’ old one, tailored to fit with a bit of help from his Mam’s old sewing lessons. He still feels ridiculous wearing it.

“Now remember,” Lucius is saying, “it’s salad fork, dinner fork, knife, soup spoon—”

Severus cuts him off. “If you mention utensils to me again, Lucius, I’m going to put an oyster fork through your damned eye.”

“You’d be better off with a butter pick,” Narcissa interjects, indicating its sharper edge with the tips of her fingers. Severus sends her a glare.

“Is this the height of rich people problems?” he asks. “Forks?”

Narcissa smirks. “You think it’s trivial now,” she tells him, “but you should have seen Mother’s reaction when Rodolphus got it wrong at Bella’s engagement party. We didn’t hear the end of it for weeks.”

And,” Lucius adds, a little more serious, “if you plan on surviving pure-blood society with any sort of dignity, it’s something you’ll need to know. They’ll be waiting for you to fail.”

“You’re going to have to earn their respect,” Narcissa agrees. She leans closer, bare shoulder brushing his, an empty champagne glass handed to a passing elf. When she speaks again, her voice is lowered, head bent, her breath warm where it hits his ear. “Right now, they know you only as the son of a blood traitor. They will say things, and when they do…” She trails off, points across the crowd to where an older woman stands sipping wine, face pinched and hair styled high. “Her son has an inclination toward Knockturn Alley whores, despite his pregnant wife. Find a way to subtly mention the name Alyssa and she’ll leave you alone.”

She nudges him in the opposite direction next, tilting her head toward a short man dressed in oversized robes. “Caught with an underage lover in Venice,” she murmurs. “His wife – the dirty blonde near the staircase – is leaving him over it. They’re trying to keep it a secret.” An uncomfortable looking woman comes after, her hand bunched at the side of her gown, head turning every few seconds to look around her. “Lost most of her fortune in the illegal dragon trade,” Narcissa explains. “The dress she’s wearing is so three seasons ago.” 

Severus stares at her, something like awe twisting his features. He listens as she goes through more of the room: a Ministry official being blackmailed by his mistress, a MacDougal who’d had a Squib for a son and left him at a Muggle orphanage, a woman whose husband had lied about his heritage; his true lineage linking back to a half-blood and muggle-born.

“And of course,” Narcissa finishes, unsavoury expression flickering across her features, “I don’t have to tell you about my family drama.”

She turns to him, then, an image of exquisite beauty as she stands haughty, the pale blue gown she wears hugging her frame and falling around her feet like the icy frost of a frozen lake. Severus catches sight of Lucius behind her, his expression proud as he looks to his fiancé, cold, grey eyes glittering beneath the chandelier’s light.

“Good, isn’t she?” he says, voice warm with affection. He winds his arm around Narcissa’s waist and pulls her as close as propriety allows, his lips brushing her cheekbone in a barely-there kiss when she tilts her head to accommodate him.

Severus swallows, unable to look away.

A moment later, a heavy bell chimes: a sign to make their way to the dining hall.  

 

 

 

 

MAY, 1972

Hogwarts – Middle Courtyard

“I thought you said you weren’t jealous.”

“I’m not jealous.”

“Then you might want to tell your hands that,” Severus says, pointing to the ripped parchment piling in Narcissa’s lap, a torn piece clenched between her fingertips. She drops it on reflex, glowering at him.

They’re sitting just off the Middle Courtyard, half-hidden behind a large, ancient tree trunk as they definitely don’t watch Lucius as he leans against the armillary sphere, indulgent look on his face as Dayanara Mallaway stands with him, her hand on his arm as she talks, the obnoxious giggle loud enough that it travels to where they are.

“She’ll be gone in a week,” Severus continues. “Just like the last three. I don’t know why yo—”

“Oh, what would you know,” Narcissa snaps. She folds her arms against her chest, the furrow between her brow deepening. “You’re too young to care about this sort of thing.”

Severus looks at her, eyebrows arched, the expression far more discouraging than a twelve-year-old has any right to be. Narcissa sighs.

“Sorry,” she offers, half-hearted.

He shrugs. “I don’t care,” he says. “The whole thing’s stupid. He doesn’t even like her – he said so yesterday at dinner.”

“It doesn’t matter if he likes her,” Narcissa says, twisting to steal another glance. It brings her some joy to see Lucius’ face growing steadily disinterested. “It matters if Abraxas likes her. And since he likes Mr. Mallaway…”

“But I thought Dayanara was a half-blood,” Severus says, careful. This isn’t something they talk about often.

“She is,” Narcissa confirms, not quite meeting Severus’ gaze. “But the Malfoys are… lenient. And since they’ve already said no to all the pure-blood girls his age—”

“They haven’t said no to you.”

Narcissa falters, her face heating just a bit. “Yes, well,” she says, stumbling. “I doubt I’ll be an option. Not with—you know.”

Severus looks at her, confused. “So a half-blood’s fine, but not a pure-blood with a sister who ra—”

“—brought disgrace to the family name,” Narcissa says, talking over him. She sends him a sharp look. “It’s more about status, really.”

Severus shakes his head, looking down at the book in his lap. Her book, technically: Slughorn’s prescribed fourth year text. She’d used it as a bribe to get him to come with her.

He murmurs under his breath, the word stupid the only thing Narcissa catches with any kind of clarity. She kicks his leg lightly and shifts to catch another glance—

—only to almost hit her forehead against a clothed leg, Lucius suddenly much closer than he had been before.

“Shit,” Narcissa murmurs, slowly tilting her head so she can look up. Lucius grins down at her.

“The next time you two want to spy,” he says in greeting, looking to Severus as well, “you really ought to talk less.”

Narcissa feels her face flush. Knows her pale skin must be bright pink. “We weren’t sp—”

Lucius waves it away. “I don’t mind,” he says, dropping gracefully to the floor beside them. “It got Mallaway to run off in a huff. She’s rather jealous of my affection for you.”

Severus snorts at the exact time Narcissa repeats the words, affection for me? and Lucius laughs as he looks between them. “Yes,” he says, eyes settling on Narcissa.

Silence follows, tense and too long. It’s broken only when Severus gets to his feet.

“I’m going,” he says, waving Narcissa’s book in the air, “and I’m taking this.”

“Alright,” Narcissa says, but it’s distant. Distracted. It’s not until she sees Lucius lift his hand in a little wave that she really realises Severus has left.

Lucius’ eyes are sparkling when he looks at her. “Is there a reason you’ve been so interested in who has my affection?” he asks, obviously expecting a certain answer.

Narcissa swallows.

 

 

 

 

DECEMBER, 1976

Malfoy Manor – Lucius’ Rooms

“That went well,” Narcissa says later, as she stands before Lucius’ vanity: ball over and most of the guests gone, a select few housed in the Manor’s spare rooms for the night – Severus included.

“Mm,” Lucius agrees, mouth pressed to her neck. He kisses her there, lips soft and damp as skilled hands fiddle with the back of her gown, fingers pulling at lace until it loosens, the fabric sagging around Narcissa’s frame.

“Of course,” she says, pulling the sleeves off her shoulders, “we could have done without Bella’s outburst.”

Lucius snorts: soft and airy. “As if your sister could ever keep her mouth shut.”

The response is a sharp glance sent to his mirror’s reflection, Lucius’ mouth smiling against her skin when he sees it. “No harm done,” he placates. “Merlin knows Severus can hold his own.”

He helps her lower the dress, crouching down to retrieve it once she steps from the pool of fabric. It’s left hanging across the vanity’s chair, his own robe following shortly after, both of them standing near-naked in Lucius’ rooms. He reaches for her. Bends to kiss her, the press of lips soft, slow, Narcissa sighing against his mouth as her arms wind around his shoulders.

“He seemed rather mesmerised with you tonight,” Lucius says as they part. He stays close enough that they breathe the same air, his hands settling on her waist and massaging gently. Narcissa hums at the touch, low and appreciative as she presses against him. Arousal pools in Lucius’ stomach.

“Jealous?” she asks, shifting to trail a finger along his jaw. She uses it to urge his mouth back down, this kiss longer, harsher: his bottom lip caught between her teeth as a hand slides up the back of his neck, tangling in his hair.

This time, when they part, they’re both out of breath.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” comes Lucius’ answer. It’s not as strong as he’d like. Is breathier than the kiss permits. Narcissa’s mouth twitches, blue eyes glittering with amusement and something more. Something Lucius can’t quite place.

He gets the distinct impression she knows something he doesn’t.

Narcissa steps back, pulling him along, and Lucius follows easily. He walks her toward the bed, kisses across her jaw, below her ear, a low moan caught in her throat as he nips at the skin and smooths it with his tongue; no sign of the night’s propriety present as he lays her down on the mattress.

 

 

 

 

SEPTEMBER, 1972

Hogwarts – Great Hall

When Severus takes his seat in the Great Hall at the start of his second year, it’s to see Narcissa’s hand held securely in Lucius’ beneath the table, their fingers linked and bodies pressed close together.

He snorts. “About bloody time,” he says, drawing their attention.

Narcissa beams.

 

 

 

 

JULY, 1979

Hanne’s Hems – Tailor for the Elite

“I hadn’t realised we were trying to upstage the bride,” Lucius says as Narcissa reappears from behind the curtain, their personal tailor hovering to the side as she assesses the fit.

Narcissa laughs. “What’s the point otherwise?” she asks him, looking down at her dress. “At least it’s not white.”

“Mm,” Lucius agrees, unable to take his eyes off his wife even as Hanne moves closer, bending to adjust the hem of the trail, a series of pins hovering mid-air at her side.

The gown definitely isn’t white, its long lines a deep, dark red, not dissimilar to the wine Lucius keeps in the cellar. It hugs the top of Narcissa’s frame perfectly: cinched at the waist like a corset, the fabric expanding slightly at the hip and falling down in ripples, leaving a small trail behind her. There’s silver detailing on the upper half, along the dip of the chest. It glitters beneath the light, her pale skin a stark contrast to the fabric.

“Have you made any progress?” Narcissa asks him, barely noticing as Hanne moves around her, making small adjustments. She doesn’t need to elaborate.

Lucius blinks, tearing his gaze up. “No,” he says. “Severus has made it rather clear he has no intention of going. I’m afraid he’ll suspect something if I ask again.”

Narcissa hums, inspecting her mirror’s reflection. “I suspected as much,” she murmurs. She twirls before the mirror, admiring the way the fabric flairs. “We’ll just have to take a direct approach.”

Lucius arches a single, elegant brow. “Which is?”

Narcissa flashes him a mischievous smirk. “You’ll see.”

 

 

 

 

NOVEMBER, 1973

Hogwarts – Path to Hogsmeade

“Severus!”

Narcissa catches him just outside the castle gates, walking side-by-side with the Evans girl. He stops at the sound of her voice, looking over his shoulder to spot her amongst the crowd of students, Evans doing the same. Where Severus perks up, intrigued, Lily’s expression shifts to a scowl; she’s obviously not happy to see her.

“What do you want?” she asks, the warning look Severus gives her going unnoticed.

Narcissa ignores it, turning instead to Severus and acting as if Lily isn’t there at all. “I’m meeting Lucius,” she says. “Do you want to come? He has that book you were asking about.”

She sees it, the second he makes up his mind. The interest that flashes in black eyes. “The one on—”

“—the use of Gurdyroot in mood altering potions,” Narcissa finishes, though they both know it’s a lie. The actual book is much darker: an ancient tome from Malfoy Manor’s library, filled with detailed descriptions on the effects of slow acting, venom-based poisons – but those aren’t the sorts of things you talk about where other people can hear, not unless you want to start a rumour mill about yourself. Narcissa learnt that from her sister. “Will you come?”

Severus doesn’t correct her, no doubt picking up on the silent warning. He nods, turning to Lily. “You don’t mind, do you?” he says. “It’s just—”

“Are you serious?” Lily says, cutting him off. “We were meant to go to Honeydukes together!”

Narcissa tries not to laugh at the look on her face, the grimace Severus gives in return.

“I know,” he says, apologetic, “and we still can, bu—”

“Forget it,” Lily snaps, crossing her arms across her chest and sending Narcissa her best glare. “Have fun with her.”

She turns on her heel in the next second, stomping back toward a group of Gryffindor girls.

Narcissa watches her go, pressing her hand between Severus’ shoulder blades to steer him back down the path. “I think I’ve upset her,” she says, far from concerned.

The look Severus gives her is not the least bit amused. “She doesn’t like when I spend time with you.”

“I’m sure she’s just jealous I’m prettier than she is.”

It’s light-hearted, casual. Severus rolls his eyes. “I think it’s more to do with the fact that you called her a—” He cuts himself off, mouth clamping shut. Narcissa watches him swallow around the word Mudblood.

As if it’s that big of a deal, she thinks. “Either way,” is what she says, “it’s hardly a loss.”

Severus doesn’t respond to that, suddenly quiet. Narcissa swallows a sigh and trails her hand down across his arm, until she’s able to take hold of his wrist. She’s noticed the way her touch makes him flush, recently.

“She’ll get over it,” she says, trying to sound comforting. She’s not entirely sure she succeeds. “Forget about it for now. Lucius is waiting.”

 

 

 

 

DECEMBER, 1978

Malfoy Manor – Northern Courtyard

The Manor’s courtyard is lit with the help of fairies, little creatures flying around the areas where the inside light doesn’t reach. Lucius leans against a pillar, sheltered as snow falls, and looks past the sea of guests to where Severus stands beside Mulciber, the two of them watching as Rosier plucks ornaments off the all-white Christmas tree and flings them toward a hiding Regulus, his swears barely discernible over the sound of others’ conversation, laughter and mellow music mixing together as one. 

“We should tell him to stop,” comes Narcissa’s voice, her arm linking with his as she settles beside him. Lucius hums half-heartedly, not bothering to turn away. There’s a short pause, a quiet huff. Then, “Or we could continue to stare at Severus like lovesick thirteen year olds.”

Her voice is lowered, closer to his ear and tilted with amusement. Lucius looks to her with a sharp turn of the head, eyes uncharacteristically wide. “I’m not—”

Narcissa holds up her hand, his denial brought to an abrupt end. “Honestly, darling,” she says, “did you think I wouldn’t notice?”

“There’s nothing to notice,” Lucius says. “I’m not—”

“It’s more of an insult to deny it,” Narcissa tells him, and Lucius shuts his mouth. Her hand rubs his arm where they’re linked, gaze meeting his, the soft blue of her eyes sparkling with the light’s reflection. “Do I sound upset?”

Lucius stares at her. Swallows. “No,” he says slowly. It’s as if he’s confused, grey eyes searching her face for something but only drawing blanks. “Or surprised,” he adds, mostly to himself.

Narcissa smiles. “Exactly.”

Lucius lets out a heavy exhale. “It’s not that I don’t—”

“I know,” Narcissa tells him. She squeezes his arm, lifting to kiss his cheek. “But now isn’t the time. We’ll discuss it later.”

She holds his eye until he nods, his arm untangling from hers to take hold of her hand instead, the back of it brought to his mouth for a kiss, their fingers linked as he breathes against her skin. “Later,” he murmurs, a promise, and Narcissa smiles again.

“Now go and save Regulus before Evan puts him in an early grave,” she says, her hand dropping back to her side. “Merlin knows he will.”

 

 

 

 

MARCH, 1979

Malfoy Manor – East Wing

“Blood replenishment. Now!

Narcissa’s voice cuts through the haze: cold and clear. Shuffling follows, too far for Severus to grasp, his head spinning as he struggles to remain conscious, eyelids heavy and dropping, the pain at his torso spreading with every passing second. It burns, stings, the feeling curling around his ribs and down across his hip. He is distantly aware of the fact that he is bleeding. Can smell it, more than anything: thick and metallic and strong enough for him to know that his injuries are bad.

“What the bloody hell happened?”

Narcissa, again. A small hand presses at his chest, above his heart. Words are whispered, too quiet for Severus to hear, the tip of a wand trailing along the length of his wounds as she starts to heal him.

“Wilkes left his post,” Lucius tells her, voice rushed. Breathless. Filled with a subtle malice as he adds, “The bloody idiot got d—”

He cuts off, and Severus can feel a presence behind him. Knows it’s Lucius when a finger runs along his bottom lip, opening his mouth. The cold edge of a large vial follows, liquid poured down his throat. He swallows on reflex.

“Moody got a hit in,” Lucius continues, the words met with a string of obscenities, colourful words out of place in Narcissa’s elegant tone.

There’s a huff, almost desperate. “He needs—”

Severus passes out.

 

 

 

 

DECEMBER, 1978

Malfoy Manor – Marital Suite

“Triad relationships are a rich part of Wizarding history,” Narcissa is saying. “You can’t honestly tell me you’ve never thought about it.”

“I didn’t say I’ve never—” Lucius breaks off, shaking his head. “I said I didn’t think it was a viable option.”

“Why wouldn’t it be?” Narcissa asks him. “It’s not as if we’ve never brought other people into our bed.”

“That’s different.”

“Is it?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

Lucius looks up from where he’s lounging in front of the fire, a glass filled with a deep red wine held in his hand. “Why do I get the impression that you already know?” he asks.

Narcissa can’t hide her smirk. “Don’t avoid the question.”

“You’re insufferable,” Lucius tells her. “I take it back – I don’t love you. In fact, I’m leaving you for Severus.”

“So quick to ire,” Narcissa tuts. “You really are in love, aren’t you?”

Cissa.”

Narcissa laughs softly, walking over to join him in front of the mantle. Her ball gown is gone, replaced with the warm wool of her night robe, her hair loose and face clear of the makeup she’d had on. Lucius’ arms wrap around her as she sits in his lap, glass discarded to a side table as she leans down to kiss him gently.

“It’s different because this time you’re serious, yes?” she says, her hand resting at the nape of his neck, fingers slipping beneath his collar. “You don’t just want sex.”

Tight silence follows, but then Lucius nods: slow and unusually tentative, looking as if it pains him to do so. Narcissa kisses him again.

“Darling,” she starts. “Tell me what you want. Be truthful.”

His hold of her tightens, forehead dropping to rest on her shoulder, his breath warm where it hits her skin. “Both of you,” he says, quiet enough that it’s almost lost beneath the fire’s crackle. “I want both of you.”

 

 

 

 

MARCH, 1979

Malfoy Manor – Severus’ Rooms

When Severus wakes, he’s lying in a bed, sheets silky-soft and more than one thick blanket wrapped around him. His body hurts: bones heavy and head aching. He tries to move but stops mid-motion, breath hitching as pain shoots down the right side of his torso.

“Oh, thank fucking Merlin,” Lucius greets him, coming into view. The mattress dips as he settles at Severus’ side. “Narcissa wasn’t sure if you’d—”

He cuts off, head shaking. Severus blinks slowly, taking in his surroundings: his usual room at Malfoy Manor, only now with various potions cluttering the bedside table. Beneath the covers, he can feel the bandages that wrap across his torso, the skin tight where it’s been magically stitched together.

“There’s scarring,” Lucius tells him, as if he’d been following his train of thought. “It’s not too bad – Cissa fixed the worst of it.” He smiles slightly, catching Severus’ eye. “Her Healing lessons finally proved useful, hm?”

Severus leans back against the pillows and groans. “Could’ve gone without being the test subject,” he says, voice slightly hoarse.

He accepts the glass of water when it’s held out to him, downing half the contents before discarding it to the side. Lucius moves closer, half-lying down beside him; a warm, heavy hand rests against Severus’ wrist, the pad of his thumb stroking the skin there.

“Are you alright?” Lucius asks. There’s genuine concern in his eyes, a fading worry. Severus can’t look at him directly.

“Fine.”

A pause follows, Lucius’ gaze not leaving him. Severus swallows and tries not to shift beneath the heat of it, tries not to think too much into it. Tries not to lean into Lucius’ touch as he strokes further up his arm, leaning closer still.

“Did anyone else get hit?” he asks him, desperate to focus on something else.

Lucius shakes his head but doesn’t stop. “Burrows got taken for questioning, and Rabastan has some li—”

The door opens, Severus abruptly pulling his hand from Lucius’ hold as Narcissa steps into the room. His heart rate quickens: a mix of shame and apprehension. He has noticed, recently, how this happens more often than it should. That lately Lucius’ affections have increased. That lately he has started to feel guilty for it, as if it means more than what it does – as if it means anything.

Beside him, Lucius doesn’t move. Doesn’t bother hiding his proximity. He raises an eyebrow at Severus’ sudden movement but says nothing as he looks past him and toward his wife.

Narcissa barely spares him a glance, preoccupied with Severus’ state. “Are you in pain?”

Severus nods, and she reaches for the row of potions. Plucks a vial from the small table, it’s light blue liquid shimmering softy. Pain relief, Severus thinks, grateful.

“Have two swallows of this, and then we’ll…”

She lists a series of things: more potions and scarring prevention, a method to test his mobility, the full effects of Moody’s spell. You were lucky, she says, her hand resting on the back of Lucius’ neck, any longer, and...

Severus shuts his eyes.

 

 

 

 

DECEMBER, 1978

Malfoy Manor – Marital Suite

“Both of us how?” Narcissa asks. She shifts her hand from Lucius’ neck to the top of his head, her fingers stroking through his hair. “Severus and I separately, or the three of us together?”

“I…” Lucius’ voice trails, muffled with his face pressed against Narcissa’s shoulder. “That’s not my decision to make.”

“No,” Narcissa agrees, “but if it were?”

He pauses. Narcissa waits, patient, listening to the fire crackle. She knows the answer; thinks she does, at least. She only wants to hear him say it.

“All three,” Lucius says eventually, quiet. Then, more sure of himself, “A traditional triad. But I know you don’t wa—”

“Lucius,” she says. “How would you know what I want if you haven’t asked me?”

It’s met with silence, Lucius pulling back to look at her. His eyes glitter in the low light, the fire reflected in his gaze. “You’d want it?” he asks, something akin to astonishment twisting his features. Narcissa smiles softly, tucking a strand of hair behind his ear.

“I’ve given it some thought, yes,” she says truthfully. “You realise, of course, that I’ve been waiting for this.”

“Of course,” Lucius replies, a chuckle bubbling in his chest. “You don’t miss a thing, do you?”

“No.” Her finger trails over the edge of his jaw, across the shadow of stubble. Drops to rest on his chest. “I wasn’t sure at first,” she admits, “but the more I thought about it, the more I realised how obvious it was – how much sense it made. He’s always been ours, hasn’t he? This is just… the next step.”

She feels Lucius inhale, chest rising and falling beneath her touch, his head falling back against the couch as he squeezes her waist softly. “A closed triad is quite a commitment,” he says. “Severus will need to agree.”

Narcissa gives him a look. “I wouldn’t worry about that,” she says. “Something tells me he’ll be more than amenable.”

 

 

 

 

JULY, 1979

Hanne’s Hems: Tailor for the Elite

Severus stands before a floor to ceiling mirror, usual robes discarded in favour of nothing but his trousers and an undershirt; the need to hide the Dark Mark void when your tailor supports the Cause. There is a large rack behind him, a row of robes thrown over its hanger, their designs nothing like what Severus buys for himself but typical of the room’s third occupant.

“There are three of the black,” Hanne is saying, flicking through them, “two red, and one of the blue.”

“Blue first,” Narcissa orders, looking to Severus from where she sits on a high-backed chair, a tray of tea at her side as she waits: ready to assess the outfits she’s picked for him. “I doubt you’ll wear the red even if it looks good.”

“I won’t,” Severus confirms, taking the robe Hanne gives him. He eyes the white lace that decorates the collar and looks to Narcissa with a sneer. “Is this really necessary?”

She smirks. “Darling, haven’t you learnt that things are easier when I get my way?”

He sighs, turning toward the dressing room. He has learnt that. Has known Narcissa long enough to know better than to push it, that the easiest way to speed the process is to simply complete it as quickly as he can.

The robe is slipped on, done up, and quickly vetoed, Severus glowering at Narcissa’s reflection as he stands in the frilly mess. The reds are next: deep, crimson-like colours that wrap tight around his skin. Narcissa holds one up against herself, and while Severus can admit that the colour blends with her complexion to make her look like something akin to royalty, it simply clashes with his own, making him look ill. 

Predictably, it’s the last one he likes best: all black save the trim, silver detailing starting at his collar and continuing down to the hem. He turns, eyeing the way it accentuates the curve of his waist, the dip of his back, his figure both slimmed and heightened. Narcissa gets up from her seat, coming to a stop behind him, and Severus tries not to noticeably react as she puts her hands on his shoulders, palms trailing down his back and over his waist as she meets his eye in the mirror’s reflection.

“This one, definitely,” she murmurs, voice lowered. She nudges his hip, makes him turn, her gaze trailing from his head to his toes and back again. “We’ll need a few adjustments,” she says, mostly to herself, “and…”

She trails off, stepping past him to reach for the hanger. A long, dark cloak is plucked from the corner, Narcissa returning to clip it around his neck with a silver clasp, the fabric falling to the floor behind him almost like a cape. He’s circled as if he were prey, Narcissa examining the final look and muttering to himself, the only thing Severus can make out a soft ...match Lucius’ as well…

“Match?” he asks, eyebrow arched.

Narcissa looks up as if she’d forgotten he could speak. “Oh,” she says. “Never mind that. Do you like it?”

Her hand is back on his waist, Narcissa close enough that he can feel the heat of her body. Severus inhales and catches the familiar scent of her perfume: vanilla and cherry blossom, self-brewed. It’s the only time he’s ever seen her enjoy being in a lab.

“I’d like it more if you told me what I’ll be needing it for,” he says, and isn’t surprised when Narcissa simply smiles, her eyes glittering under the light.

“You’ll see,” she tells him, almost in a sing-song. She leans forward and places a quick, gentle kiss to his cheek before taking a few steps back. “Put it on my husband’s tab,” she calls toward Hanne. “Send it to the Manor once everything is finalised.”

Severus watches Hanne make a note in her calendar, body still burning hot where Narcissa had touched him. “Have you paid for anything since you got married?” he tries to joke, swallowing down the hint of desire that pools in his stomach.

Narcissa gives him a look. “Of course not,” she says. “Isn’t that the point in marrying a Malfoy?”

Severus silently concedes that she has a point.

 

 

 

 

APRIL, 1977

Malfoy Manor – South Gardens

“It’s not fair that they’re both hot,” Rosier is saying in a low whisper, head bent to speak into Severus’ ear. “I mean, I know she’s my cousin and all, bu—”

“Don’t finish that sentence,” Severus deadpans, sparing him a glance. Evan laughs.

They’re sitting in the crowd at Lucius and Narcissa’s wedding, watching as the bride and groom prepare to exchange vows. He was my friend first, Narcissa had said, arms crossed as she dared Lucius to challenge her. He hadn’t, and so Severus had been invited to sit on her side of the aisle; a threat of dismemberment his incentive to show and Evan his promise of familiarity. 

“Oh, come on,” Evan says. “You know you would, too.”

Severus swallows, gaze fixed on the arch of white roses Lucius and Narcissa stand under, a pool of petals scattered at their feet. He doesn’t offer an answer, doesn’t like to encourage Evan’s jokes. His hints that there’s something more going on.

(“It’s like they’re trying to court you,” Evan had said just a few months ago, fiddling with a flower’s stem as he sat on the edge of Severus’ bed. “I mean – a bloody Valentine’s gift?”

Severus had sighed. “It’s not a Valentine’s gift,” he’d said, knowing full well he’d have to repeat it later. “It’s a gift that happened to arrive on Valentine’s Day.”

Evan’s expression had leaked disbelief, his mouth twitching at the corner. Irritation had itched beneath Severus’ skin.

“It came with half a dozen red roses.”

Severus had sent him a look. “It is a book on a poison that burns its victim alive from the inside out. Keep going and you can be the test subject.”

There’d been no more arguments after that.)

Now, though, as he drops his gaze to where Narcissa stands in her white gown, the Manor’s blooming gardens a beautiful backdrop, Severus can’t help but think Evan is right on both counts. Lately, he has started to think that there is something more, or at least has started to want it. He has noticed the way touches linger, the way Lucius will put a hand on his shoulder, his neck, his back, even his thigh that one time, on his seventeenth birthday, as they’d sat in the room across Malfoy Manor’s potions lab – Severus staying for winter hols as he’d completed Abraxas’ commissions. And yes: privately, Severus can admit that he would. Narcissa has always been the most beautiful woman in the room, and he’s always had a bit of a crush on her because of that; the attraction solidified as they’d grown closer and then heightened by her unattainability. The addition of Lucius is far from discouraging, his childish worship morphing over the years to a fierce loyalty, a latent longing. He looks to him now, the man’s beauty matching his soon-to-be wife’s, and can’t help but feel a twinge of envy.

At who, he isn’t sure.

“They’re going to make lots of beautiful blonde babies, aren’t they?” Evan murmurs, glaring as he’s shushed by the old woman behind them.

Severus snorts. “Better them than you.”

 

 

 

 

JULY, 1979

Malfoy Manor – East Wing

“It’s a pity you don’t want to go,” Narcissa is saying, shoulder bushing Severus’ as she brings her digestif to her mouth, the wine staining her lips a soft red. “It’s bound to be lovely – not to mention you’ll attract a client or two.” 

Severus hums, non-committal. “I already declined the RSVP.”

Lucius sits across from them, lounged as he watches his wife play seductress, his chest warm with affection, amusement, arousal pooling a little further down. He has been waiting for this. This blatant display – Narcissa’s final attempt to reach her goal. He enjoys the way she lets herself loosen, the way she allows her hidden desires to show: ambition leaking from every part of her as she works to get what she wants. More than that, he enjoys the way Severus reacts: appreciative but hesitant, his gaze flicking to Lucius at every risky advance, as if unsure how he should be reacting. For his part, he offers little guidance. Remains impassive and lets Severus decide for himself.

After all, he does enjoy a good show.

“Mm,” Narcissa agrees, looking to Lucius for only a second. He offers a minuscule nod. “Though I did tell Phaedra I’d be bringing a plus one.”

He sees it, Severus’ confusion. The first hint of suspicion. Can tell the other man is quickly adding things up in his mind: the new robe, the dinner invitation, Narcissa’s not-so-casual comments and the insistent touching. His brow furrows just a bit, gaze flicking between them.

“Your husband, naturally,” he says, an attempt to act dumb. It doesn’t suit him at all, Lucius thinks.

Narcissa comes to the same conclusion. “Hardly,” she drawls, giving Severus a look. “It’s a joint plus one.”

There’s a pause, tension swarming. Severus looks between them again; Lucius can sense the sigh pressing at his teeth. “Is there something I should know about this wedding?” Severus starts. “A raid? A meeting? Both of you ha—”

Lucius chuckles faintly, drawing attention. Severus cuts himself off and stares.

“So sinister, Severus,” Lucius says, standing in a fluid motion. “It’s merely a wedding.”

“Then why the bloody hell—”

“Simply a place to celebrate affection,” Narcissa adds, making Severus shut his mouth.

Lucius smiles at her as he sits on the other side of Severus, close enough to ensure that the other man can feel the heat of his body; to ensure that he is securely trapped between the two of them. He feels Severus still. Can see the tense lines of his back, posture straightened and breath coming in a consciously steady stream.

“I don’t understand,” Severus say eventually. Lucius knows it pains him to do so.

Narcissa shows mercy. “We want you to come as our plus one,” she says simply. She looks to Lucius, then to Severus. Holds his gaze. “As ours.”

They watch, impatient, as Severus plays catch up with himself, the weight of the words settling in. When no response comes, Lucius leans closer, his chin resting on the dip of Severus’ shoulder. He lifts his hand to push Severus’ hair from his face and presses his lips to the shell of the other man’s ear, breathing slowly, damp and hot.

“Do you understand now?” he asks, sparing Narcissa a glance.

Severus shivers between them.

 

 

 

 

JANUARY, 1978

The Lestrange Estate

In retrospect, Severus thinks, the alcohol hadn’t been the best idea. Although he’s not entirely upset with the result.

“Come here,” Lucius is saying, pulling him close, almost into his lap. “Come on. You won’t know unless you try.”

“That’s not how it works,” he says, a half-hearted attempt at protest. He looks at Narcissa, gaze questioning, but she only nods.

“Go on,” she says, the only sober one between them. Severus feels a groan catch in his throat, his gaze shifting back to Lucius, stalling on the other man’s mouth: lips stained red by his wife’s lipstick, his tongue peeking between the tips of white teeth.

He’s lounging in front of the balcony, robes dishevelled and hair slightly out of place, the moon’s light casting him in shadows. The rest of Bellatrix’s guests are out in the gardens, the sitting room deserted in favour of the show of fireworks; cheers filter in through the open windows as their friends bring in the New Year while they do this.

(Boys or girls, Lucius had asked, words slightly slurred, his cheeks pink with the whiskey’s warmth. Or both? he’d added with a slight, knowing smirk. I think it’s both. I’ve a bet with Rosier.)

Lucius’ hand is on his neck now, below where his hair is tied in a knot, his grey eyes darkened as he looks at him. “Come on,” he says again, a soft murmur, and Severus can’t find it in him to resist. Doesn’t want to. Doesn’t need to, not when Narcissa has granted permission.

He allows Lucius to pull him closer, allows their mouths to meet in a slow kiss: tentative, at first, as Severus adjusts to who, exactly, he’s kissing. But then it heats. Lucius bites his bottom lip, nails digging into his nape, bringing him closer. Severus falls in a heap on his lap, hands curled around Lucius’ shoulders, his fingers tangling in the robe as he pants against Lucius’ mouth. He can recognise the arousal that makes his body burn white-hot, his cock half-hard as Lucius slips a tongue into his mouth; the knowledge of Narcissa’s presence and the heat of her gaze not forgotten as his breath hitches in a moan.

When they break apart, Lucius smirks at him, the expression weak as he breathes heavy. Severus can’t look away – nothing, nothing, he’s ever done has felt like this.

“A good experiment tests all the variables,” comes a clear voice, Narcissa cutting through the haze. They both turn as she settles on the other side of Lucius, apprehension tingling beneath Severus’ skin. He watches her kiss Lucius’ jaw before she turns to him.

There’s a split-second pause, his window to realise what’s happening before it happens, and then Narcissa is taking control. She leans over her husband to grab Severus by the chin, her touch pulling him forward so their mouths can meet, Lucius’ hand warm on the small of his back as he urges him forward. He feels almost dizzy at Narcissa’s kiss: similar yet different, the taste of her like a drug he wants more of.

He never gets it. They’re interrupted before it can continue, Evan grinning from the doorway as he informs them of Bellatrix’s incoming presence. The warning is clear.

Severus gets to his feet and wipes his mouth.

(Both, he thinks later, answering Lucius’ question. Boys and girls; anyone who manages to keep his attention. Anyone who manages to match that.

Lucius grins like he knows what he’s thinking. Severus wouldn’t be surprised if he did.)

 

 

 

 

AUGUST, 1979

New Parkinson Estate

Narcissa smiles as she bids goodbye to Dayanara Mallaway, one arm linked with Lucius’ while her other has a hold on Severus. They’re standing amongst the crowd at the Parkinson wedding, waiting for Preston and Phaedra to arrive so the reception can start. I should have guessed, Severus had said that morning, as he’d seen the way his robe’s trim matched the stitching on her gown; Lucius’ robes almost a mirror of his own except for the red detailing. Narcissa had smiled, pleased with their co-ordination. With the obvious message it sent. She’s trying to steal their thunder, Lucius had joked, dodging her attempt to swat his arm. Really, though, Narcissa thinks. If they managed to upstage the bride and groom, it was hardly their fault.  

“Well, don’t you three look cosy,” comes Rosier’s voice as he appears behind them.

Narcissa turns to greet him, Lucius and Severus following. He’s grinning, green eyes twinkling as he looks first at Lucius, then Narcissa, then Severus, the latter twitching at her side, uncomfortable with the scrutiny. She rubs his arm gently, Evan stepping forward to clap him on the shoulder.

“About bloody time,” he says, sending them all a knowing look, and Narcissa is reminded of years earlier, when the same words had been uttered by Severus as she’d sat giddy, her hand linked with Lucius’ beneath the Slytherin table. She knows she’s not the only one, can feel it in the men beside her. It makes a laugh bubble in her chest, light and airy: genuine joy mixing with satisfaction that she’d achieved her goal.

About bloody time, indeed.